Culture city guides

How to pair wine with food?


Dylan Mitchell

Pairing food and wine is a topic that comes up time and again. It’s a tale as old as time. Some, perhaps the wine aficionados amongst us, fear that rich food might overwhelm our choice of wine. Others, let’s call them the ‘food lovers’ for whom wine is less important, want to ensure their considered choice of dish is not ruined by an inappropriate choice of wine. And then we have the ‘don’t know-ers’. Those who feel lost in the world of wine pairing and just want to feel at ease are confident in their choice of both wine and food from any given restaurant menu.

Where to start? Here at tastecard, we know that a perfect wine and food combination has a balance of aromas that, together, bring out the subtleties of both the grape and the dish. In our comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through how to pair wines with different food types, including the all-important rules for each food category, and some recommended classic food and wine combinations. But don’t forget rules were made to be broken so at tastecard, we want to encourage you to get creative and make up a few rules of your own. That’s where the magic happens…

Elevate your dining experience.

Pairing the right wine with your food should create a truly epic dining experience. Did you know that matching your food with your wine is the perfect opportunity to create a more enjoyable experience for you and your friends when you dine out at your favourite tastecard restaurant? To get started you should know that there are two types of pairings that top sommeliers learn about:  complementary pairing and congruent pairing.

Complementary pairing is the easiest one to remember because this is where food and wine choices should be exact opposites to each other. Perhaps the most recognisable example of this would be pairing a fine red wine with a deliciously! fatty red meat like steak. The high-fat content of juicy steak is balanced out by the tannins in red wine, leading to a balanced mouth feel that reduces the negatives and embraces the positives of the pairing. Another great example of a complementary pairing would be the choice to marry a salty cheese like Roquefort with a sweet dessert wine - the perfect balance of acidity and sweetness counterbalancing the saltiness of the cheese with sublime, tastebud-tingling precision. 

Congruent pairing is slightly more tricky because here both elements, the food and the wine, need to share the same flavour notes and subtleties. A classic combination here would be the pairing of a sweet, unctuous dessert wine, like a Sauternes with a rich, creamy dessert. The fact that the wine has been aged in oak barrels means that buttery flavours develop and these notes work well with dairy-based desserts. If savoury is more your thing then the classic congruent pairing of a rich, oily fish like Salmon with a full-bodied white wine like an oak-aged chardonnay is an excellent choice.

Steak and Red Wine

What food goes with red wine?

This is perhaps the question we see asked most often. Lovers of red wine are particularly passionate about their grape selection but perhaps lacking in knowledge about the best dish with which to pair their carefully chosen vintage. Steak is a brilliant choice when faced with this particular conundrum because the molecules in red wine called tannins soften the fats in the red meat, helping to release the supremely juicy taste. The fat in turn softens the astringent qualities of the wine, helping to mellow the taste and produce a juicier, more even flavour.

If you want to try this perfect pairing then a great place to start would be a visit to The Three Merry Lads in Sheffield. A family-run pub which offers a delightful home-cooked menu and an ever-changing specials board, roaring fires in winter and an unsurpassed beer garden in summer with some of the finest views over the Peak District. Their Rib-eye steak is a firm favourite of ours at tastecard and when paired with a medium-bodied Rioja or Cabernet Sauvignon you’ll see that the overall flavour of the dish is subtly enhanced.

Here, you can get 25% off your total bill with a tastecard membership. You can find Three Merry Lads at 610 Redmires Road, S10 4LJ.

White Wine

What food goes with white wine?

At this point, it might be wise to introduce another well-known wine pairing tip - that of colour. One of the most straightforward rules of food and wine pairing used to be the principle of the ‘one colour palette’. Taken literally, this would mean that white fish, seafood, and white meat should only pair well with white wine. There is truth in this principle, of course, because the light, crisp nature of many white wines sits perfectly with the lighter texture and flavour of many traditional fish and seafood dishes. 

To experience this perfect pairing you would do well to visit The Overcliff Pub & Kitchen At The Suncliff Hotel in sunny Bournemouth. Although we cannot promise glorious weather we can wholeheartedly recommend the crispy wholetail scampi when sampled with a light pinot grigio. The restaurant itself is also one to be enjoyed at leisure as the large dining room conservatory enjoys spectacular views from Hengistbury Head, across the bay to Old Harry Rocks, the perfect backdrop for sipping your wine and sampling the delights of the seasonal menu.

Make sure to let your server know you’re a tastecard member to get 2 for 1 on your food. You can find this delightful spot at 29 East Overcliff Drive, BH1 3AG.

Scottish Steakhouse Macdonald Manchester

Breaking the rules.

Here at tastecard, we are natural rule breakers - that’s how we can offer you such audacious restaurant deals in many great restaurants and cafes. We pride ourselves on doing things a bit differently so we’re here to tell you that white wine doesn’t always need to be paired with paler foods. Often, it’s important to consider not just the colour but the weight of the food you are choosing to pair with wine. Rich white wines, therefore, marry extremely well with creamy, buttery textures and hence require heavier dishes to bring out the flavour subtleties.

If you’re keen to sample this sort of lesser-known pairing then steak may, once again, be your friend. Why not book a table at the Scottish Steakhouse at the Macdonald Hotel & Spa in Manchester city centre where steaks feature in prime position on the menu and the beef is sourced only from the best stock in Scotland? 

You could opt for the sirloin steak presented in a bearnaise sauce and sip a dry, nutty German Riesling. The intensity and complexity of this kind of white wine sit extremely well when married to the texture and flavour of this premium cut of red meat.

Show your tastecard membership to your server and get 2 for 1 on your order. You can find this brilliant establishment at 91 London Road, M1 2PG.

Images sourced directly from partners and/or their Instagram accounts. All restaurants available on tastecard at the time of publishing.

Start saving with tastecard.

Now that you know how to pair wine with food, the time is right to join tastecard and save even more money with a whole range of deals. This includes huge restaurant deals, days out deals, discount cinema tickets and even more. tastecard is simply perfect for the couple looking to explore a variety of restaurants for as much as half the price. So join tastecard, download the tastecard app and start saving when you dine today.